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Elections

Position papers: Barberton Municipal Court judge

10/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

David Fish (incumbent) vs. Jill Flagg

Voters living in the Barberton Municipal Court district will vote for one candidate for judge in the Nov. 5 General Election. The Barberton Municipal Court serves the communities of Barberton, Clinton, Copley, Coventry, Green, New Franklin and Norton. The information provided below was submitted by the candidates, with their responses to our questions printed as submitted.

 

David Fish (incumbent)

What are the three most important issues facing the court and how would you address them?

  1. “The continuing cuts in funding for all correctional services at the state and local levels. With increasingly overcrowded jails, municipal judges have, by necessity, been forced to search for more creative sentencing alternatives to punish the offenders and keep their victim’s safe. As an active member of the Summit County Jail Overcrowding Committee I am constantly at the table with the stakeholders in our community to discuss alternatives and swiftly implement policies and procedures to adapt to those security needs.
  2. “Dealing with the effects of a difficult economy on all levels of the court system. We are tasked with the responsibility of running a fiscally sound court but are far from immune from the ravages of a down economy. When law enforcement lays off police, sheriffs and troopers there is, by definition, less revenue generated due to the lack of citations and complaints coming to the court. And when we do issue fines and costs for offenders, the challenge of collecting those monies timely is more difficult as offenders cannot afford to pay as they deal with their issues of paying rent, feeding and clothing their families, having secure transportation, etc. I just constantly look to balance those competing pressures and make decisions as financial concerns so dictate.
  3. “Increased incidence of drug and alcohol related crimes. As I have done with my Mental Health Court for the severe and persistently mentally ill, I believe the treatment and accountability model presents the best opportunity to change the destructive …” [Exceeded stated word limit.]

What does a judicial demeanor mean to you and do you think you have it?

“As a judge I have always felt the obligation to comport myself in a way that is dignified and instills confidence in all who appear before the court. To accomplish this I have tried to act in a way that avoids even the appearance of impropriety and partiality. I believe that I must hold myself to an even higher standard than even the lawyers who appear in my court. I try not to ever raise my voice or exhibit anger. I often use a splash of humor to ‘take the temperature down’ or help to relieve someone’s anxiety at appearing in court. I treat all who stand before me with respect and understanding, even when some might feel they deserve neither.”

 

Jill Flagg

What are the three most important issues facing the court and how would you address them?

“The three most important issues facing the court are the need for timely disposition of cases, lack of court security, and the need for specialty dockets.

“Timely dispositions of cases and hearings are important to the administration of justice. The court must move cases along to ensure fair and compassionate treatment for victims and to increase the effectiveness of the justice system.  Timely resolution also minimizes the stress and trauma of victims and the parties.  I would ensure that all cases in my court would be timely resolved by setting deadlines and granting continuances only when justice requires.  Justice delayed is justice denied.

“Barberton Municipal Court security is an emergency. There is no municipal court in the state that you don’t go through a metal detector and see a police officer upon entering the court. The court staff, judges, prosecutors, and people of the communities of Barberton, Green, Copley, New Franklin, Coventry, New Franklin, and Clinton are in danger every time they enter that building without proper security. I would address that issue immediately upon becoming Judge before it is addressed due to a tragedy.  I would remedy this problem by exploring funding from the community or through court order.

“Finally, I would explore the creation of specialty dockets to address the growing substance abuse problems in the community. A substance abuse docket would cast a wider net then the newly created mental health docket by providing community resources to a greater number of offenders whose underlying behavior stems from …” [Exceeded stated word limit.]

What does a judicial demeanor mean to you and do you think you have it?

“Judicial demeanor means treating every person that comes before the court with respect, dignity, and empathy. It means being impartial and avoiding the appearance of partiality. Administering justice with consistency and implementing resolutions that our effective and efficient. A judge’s behavior should cause the community to have faith and trust in the judicial system. 

“Many people that come before a judge in Municipal Court are not represented by an attorney, so Judges must take special care to explain the law and how the law applies to insure the parties feel as though they have received the full attention of the court and that their case has been dealt with fairly. The judge must also take special care to reduce the stress of the parties and victims who come before by timely disposing of matters.”

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